A Bristol-based boxer has claimed the British Boxing Board of Control is discriminating against him due to his disability.
Joe Hughes who lost on a controversial decision against Robbie Davies Jr on Saturday March 30 feels him winning the fight may be, “embarrassing to the governing body.”
Hughes who has Erbs Palsy, and in effect boxes with one arm, was appalled at the points decision against him in the European and British lightweight title unification fight at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena.
After seemingly dominating the fight he was denied the victory as Davies Jr secured a 118-110, 115-113, 115-114 decision.
In an exclusive interview with Bristol Live he has stated that somebody like him winning the title maybe isn’t good for boxing’s image, an accusation the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) have rejected.
Part of the Matchroom Boxing promotion run by Eddie Hearn, the 12-round bout was marked with controversy many thinking Hughes had done enough to win the fight. Social media erupted with condemnation at the decision, in particular to judge Terry O’Connor who scored the fight 118-110.
In typical humble fashion, Joe Hughes posted on Instagram initially that he felt he did not do enough to win the fight. After subsequently watching the fight back several times, he is now clear that he couldn’t see how he didn’t get the decision.
Hughes said: “We knew we had to go Liverpool to win clearly to get the result in front of his home crowd. But having watched it back several times, and I honestly cannot see how they gave him the fight. I outboxed him at range, and it was even on the inside. I would score myself at eight rounds, and him at four. I won the fight clearly.
“It looks like at least 90 per cent of the boxing world agrees with me. They are all saying I won. And these aren’t people connected to Bristol or Wiltshire, national boxing fans that don’t know me. Even Eddie Hearn has said he was surprised at the decision.”
Most of Hughes anger and frustration was directed at judge Terry O’Connor. He added: “What fight was he watching?”
Hughes goes further and suggests his disability may have been a factor. He explained: “The Board of control did this with me before, with everything going on it feels like they don’t want me to have the Lonsdale belt.
“It almost feels that they don’t want someone like me with a disability to win their title. That’s honestly how it feels. It’s embarrassing for someone like me fighting with one arm for them, perhaps. In particular O’Connor’s decision is just absurd.”
Boxing has always been full of controversial decisions and has a tendency to favour home fighters, but this isn’t the first time this has happened for Hughes. He said: “ When I fought for the first British title and got the draw, everyone said the same. Then when we went to Italy to win the European even though one judge gave against us, we rightly got the win. But now this happens, I am starting to ask why?”
“Davies Jr is a ticket seller, and business sometimes creeps into boxing, I don’t sell so many tickets. No hard feelings to him he’s a good fighter, and not his fault so not taking anything away from him, but everyone could see his face compared to mine at the end.”
Hughes’ coach Andy O’Kane concurred with Hughes take on the fight and said: “For any judge to see Joe eight rounds down at the end of that contest is just ludicrous. We saw Joe two rounds up, but suspected a draw as in his home city. But to see all three judges go the other way is ridiculous. We were just left stunned.”
“Not one person ringside, even the Scousers were telling me we had been turned over. To do this twice with the Lonsdale belt on the line, is very fishy.”
There has been calls for a rematch, and that is the plan for Joe and his team. Meeting with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing later this week, they hope to see a fight soon, and Joe is raring to go. “Definitely a rematch, I will fight tomorrow. I don’t intend to rest, and want this sorted. And Davies Jr has taken so much stick after I expect surely he will want to set the record straight too wouldn’t he?”
“So it’s a waiting game, and is frustrating. But let’s see what happens. The next step would have been a World title for me, so to have been robbed of this is a kick in the teeth. But happy to talk. I’m fine and ready. His face is quite damaged, so let’s see what healing he needs, and when we can get this on.”
The General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control Robert Smith has released a statement in response to comments from Joe Hughes, denying the allegations and insisting the fight was scored fairly and without prejudice.
Smith said: “It was a good contest. A good fight. Davies Jr won all three score cards. There was no dispute. Joe is obviously disappointed as every fighter tends to think they have won a fight.
“A letter has been sent to the EBU (European Boxing Union) by his coach Andy O’Kane and they are happy with the result, as are the BBB.
“It is disappointing that Joe has said such things. With regards the disability, there is no issue whatsoever. He is treated the same as everybody else.”
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